After three intense days of budget deliberations, Regina city council has passed the city’s 2023 operating budget. However, that didn’t happen without a significant reduction being made to the 2023 mill rate increase.
A motion from councillors Lori Bresciani and Bob Hawkins was passed that will reduce the rate from the projected 4.66 per cent to 3.67 per cent.
The increase will now be $6.85 a month for the average home valued at $315,000.
The new rate results in city administration having to find reduced expenditures to the tune of $2.9 million.
Regina’s ongoing homelessness issue also dominated much of the discussion Friday.
Things got heated with Coun. Andrew Stevens moving a motion that would take the proposed 0.5 mill rate increase for recreation and move it to a permanent supportive housing grant.
“It’s important to me that my kid has a playground to play on but it’s more important to me that she not stumble upon someone who died of a fentanyl overdose in a park near our house,” Ward 6 Coun. Dan LeBlanc said.
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“If I have to choose between recreation and shelter I’m going to choose shelter,” Ward 8 Coun. Shanon Zachidniak said.
Stevens’ motion was eventually voted down.
No new amendments regarding funding homelessness were passed into the budget.
It is the first multi-year budget for Regina, covering 2023 and 2024.
Budget discussions were sidetracked in the last few weeks by controversy as two city councillors, Stevens and LeBlanc, took city manager Niki Anderson to court, alleging that the city did not include funding to address homelessness in the operational budget.
“Instead of working together as council this has been a total, total mess,” Jason Mancinelli, Ward 9 councillor, said.
Regina Mayor Sandra Masters said the city is doing “more than ever” to address the issue.
“I resent the fact that there is no acknowledgment from my council colleagues that we are doing an extraordinary amount, more than has ever been done before. To say that we can just throw folks into houses is wrong-headed, erroneous and complete misinformation,” Masters said.
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